The ‘ed’ ending in English is used for a number of reasons. Primarily it is used for regular past tense verbs, but it is also used in adjectives. Moreover, the ‘ed’ ending is used for perfect tenses, the passive voice, and clauses. One of the most confusing aspects for students is that the ‘ed’ ending doesn’t always mean the past!
The -ed ending in the past tense
To form the past tense of regular verbs, we simply add -ed to the base form of that verb. For example, you might say: “I walked to work yesterday” or “I called my mother this morning”. Both these sentences are the past simple and express an action that both started and finished in the past.
The Perfect Tenses
We also used the past form of the verb when we use perfect tenses. For example:
The Present Perfect – I have finished my homework.
The Past Perfect – She had walked for a very long way.
The Future Perfect – She will have completed university by 2013.
In each of these tenses, the past participle form of the verb is used whether or not we are expressing the past, present or future.
Adjectives that Use -ed
Sometimes adjectives can also end with -ed. For example, “She is excited”. The word ‘excited’ is an adjective. Usually, adjectives that end with -ed describe feelings, e.g. pleased, bored, shocked, and surprised, etc. These adjectives are also derived from verbs and can also be used as verbs. To further complicate the issue with adjectives and -ed is that they also usually have a different form using the -ing ending. For example, “It is an exciting time”. They are very similar to verbs, take similar forms, but we use them for adjectives. To tell the difference between them it is important to look at what tense is being used and try to locate the subjects and verbs in the sentence.
The Passive Voice
Past participles can also be used with the passive voice. In the passive voice, the subject is the thing that has an action carried out upon it. For example, ‘the food was cooked at 3pm’. Here, the food is the subject and the action is cooking. The action of cooking is being carried out on the food.
Clauses also sometimes use -ed. For example, “When asked to stay away, he still came to the home”.
As we can see from the above examples, the -ed ending isn’t as simple as one might think. There are many reasons why we use it in the English language and it doesn’t always signify that we’re talking about the past. It can be used in perfect tenses, adjectives, the passive voice, and also clauses.